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From RPG to DDT: WrestleQuest interview with Becca Peters

We all know the typical pro wrestling video game formula — you choose the promotion (typically WWE) and either create a wrestler or control a superstar who has had their likeness inserted into it. In the ring your button combos and timing determine your ability to perform a specific slate of moves, used to wear down your AI or human controlled opponent. When they are weak enough you do your finishing move or patented submission hold and try to get the win. If you’re playing a story mode you try to accumulate enough wins to face and ultimately become the world champion.

Some booking simulator titles let you control what goes on behind the scenes, but you’re typically faced with the cognitive dissonance of playing a game where you control something most wrestlers don’t — their fate in the promotion. As much as we might want a Ricochet or a Darby Allin to be the world champion, if they’re not seen as the “face of the company” by those promoters, it’s never going to happen. In my own experience the reality of the fake world of pro wrestling can actually interfere with my ability to suspend disbelief with a controller in my hand, something that never seems to happen when I sit down for an immersive role playing game.

But what if you could purchase a pro wrestling game that played like a RPG? That would be delightfully devilish. Instead of just controlling an avatar and pretending it’s somehow a shoot fight, you could mix the simulated in-ring action with the behind the scenes mayhem. Visit a tailor to improve your in-ring gear, make friends with the right people in creative to get a better storyline, go on side quests to level up your stats or learn new moves. It would be a steady progression of leveling up until you’re strong enough to take out the next boss — in the ring +or+ behind the scenes.

That’s where WrestleQuest comes in. Today I had a chance to talk to Becca Peters, marketing director for Mega Cat Studios, about this exciting new approach to the wrestling video game genre.

“It’s about (the devs) writing a love letter to two things that they love a whole bunch — they both love wrestling and they both love RPGs. They were thinking about making another type of wrestling game. They were like okay we’re going to have the combat, we’re going to have this, and then they were like... we don’t just want to make it about just the wrestling itself. We want to make it about the whole narrative of what’s going on.”

That was key to unlocking the idea of WrestleQuest. Just like in televised wrestling matches, the audience itself is part of the story. If you mash a button and do a move over and over, they get bored and your “Hype Meter” goes down. If you entertain them with your entrance, your showmanship and your taunts, the meter fills up. Pro wrestling legends from the past and present can also help or hinder your quest along the way.

“We also have tied in a lot of the professional wrestlers as well, so there’s just an absolute slew of side quests. There’s one where Jeff Jarrett — his guitar is stolen or its lost and you have to go help him find it. There’s so many different paths like that where you get to tell all these really interesting stories. We worked really hard with the estates of these wrestlers to make sure it was something that really represented their legacy well.”

The word “estates” immediately makes you realize there are people in the game who are no longer with us, so I asked Becca to give me a little bit more information about which legends made the cut.

“One of the biggest victories they had was from Andre the Giant’s estate especially, and just having them say like, he would have absolutely loved this, so we would love for him to be able to be immortalized in the game this way. I know we have Jake the Snake (Roberts) that we were working with, DDP, Andre the Giant, Jeff Jarrett, there are so so many more though. I believe we have at least 20 or 30 (wrestlers) that we were working with.”

In a bit of life imitating art, WrestleQuest actually booked matches at PAX East to both promote the game and showcase their abilities.

“We had a lot of local wrestlers there, and just seeing how they like came together to tell a story, to wrap in details of WrestleQuest, to wrap in details of what was going on at PAX specifically — people who were just walking by. It’s a lot of improv. Yes you have to keep this narrative going with the action at the same time.”

For me the game has its own real life hype meter now outside of the RPG combat mechanics. Originally slated for a spring 2023 launch, developer Skybound Games is still working out a few details to get it “just right.” Becca teased that it could be sooner rather than later.

“It’s one of those ‘We want to make sure we’re putting out the best version of it possible’ instead of saying like ‘Well we committed to this exact date, let’s just throw it out there, and maybe it’s not completely polished in the way that we want it to be.’ Essentially we’re just committed to make sure that it is what we want it to be, whenever we put it out there. I’d say it’s still likely, but they’d like us to just say ‘this year’ as of right now.”

Whatever amount of time it takes, I’d rather they get it right than get it out, so I’m going to be anticipating the eventual launch date like everyone else. In the meantime you can learn about WrestleQuest at the official website, follow Becca, Skybound Games and Mega Cat Studios on social media, and check out audio from our interview below. Please note that due to technical issues only Becca’s half of the audio was available for replay.

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